Singing is all about ENERGY and SOUND coming to life through your breath! It requires a confidence and commitment from the very first thought and the onset of your very first note all the way to the very end of your phrase or song. Most of the time, when we start weak, we finish weak. That is human nature. But I am suggesting that we consciously approach singing with the intention and habit of starting strong and ending strong. In other words, start committed and finish committed… consistently from the first note to the last.
Let’s talk about 3 key practices that will improve your singing performance significantly:
1. Risk & Reveal!
When we understand that singing is passion, energy and feeling, only then can we create MAGIC! We have to be willing to tap into the magnetic power of our hearts and expand our energy in a big way. This means showing up bigger, bolder and more connected. It means sharing a deeper, more expressive, and vulnerable part of your being. This is what it means to risk and reveal. It’s risky because anything can happen. You are not in perfect control of the situation and you accept that. It means digging deep and singing with a transparent honesty from your heart and soul!
Singing truly starts with a willingness to be seen and heard for the duration of your voice lesson, rehearsal or live performance. I’m not talking about living under a spot light continuously. That would be exhausting! Rather I’m talking about giving yourself permission to expand your energy long enough to bring the best of yourself to any singing performance. You may need to hold that energy for five minutes or for over two hours. There’s your commitment! After your performance, you can return to your normal, less expanded state and relax.
2. Know Where You’re Going!
Before we sing anything, it is imperative to know the melody or tune beforehand. So the first and most important thing we must do is LEARN our music! We do this to “get the song in our ear,” so we can HEAR it internally before we sing our first note. This is what I call the brain-ear connection. Our brain has to visualize and hear it first before we can produce it externally with our voices. We’ve all tried to sing unsuccessfully with a melody that we don’t know very well or at all. For instance, sometimes at my mom’s church, the congregation is singing from the hymnal. And even though I have the printed music in front of me, the song is not yet “in my ear”. So as I’m mumbling and bumbling along with everyone, I am unsure of the precise intervals of the melody. At best, I can only half-sing and I am more tentative because I am not 100% confident of where the notes are taking me. Whereas if you ask me to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” I know that melody by heart and can reproduce it with ease (because it’s in my ear). And probably so can you, right? That’s because we have to be able to hear it before we sing it.
Do not underestimate the importance of being able to hear yourself adequately while you’re singing! Hearing the melody internally before you sing it, PLUS the ability to hear yourself externally in the room will boost your confidence considerably and make you a stronger performer. Hearing yourself clearly while internalizing the pitches of your song, give you the faith and confidence to trust yourself and sing in tune. And that makes singing a whole lot more fun!
3. Sing ON Your Breath!
So now your energy is expanded and you internally know the tune of your song. Now you are ready for action! And now you’re ready to sing ON the breath. The first physical step in singing is the inhalation of the breath, which can be fast or slow. You prepare your lungs by breathing in (all while thinking of your first pitch) and execute your first note by singing on the breath. This is where you become a living channel and instrument. Singing on the breath provides a steady breath stream to create a strong onset of sound that directs the flow of your musical phrase. It instantly gives you a stronger, richer tone. It is by riding the wave of your breath that you artistically shape your sound and create resonance. This is also where you actively listen, tune, and support your pitch. Many things are happening at once! And YOU are the living instrument through which the visual thought, hearing, breath and sound are flowing.
If done correctly, your breath will literally carry your sound forward with a pleasing pitch and tone. Additionally, when you sing “on your breath” (like a surfer on top of a wave), the musical phrase comes to life and the notes begin to dance and sparkle. Something special is launched with energy and momentum. The more you master this skill, the more you will feel the vibration, power and joy moving through your body while you sing! And the more your singing will become an absolute pleasure and gift for others to listen to.